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Across the world, families are wrapping their mind around how to stay safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the pressing issues is the sudden lack of school-provided meals for children—and the extreme stress that this induces for many families who rely on them.

Additionally, many people are now without income, making purchasing food an extreme source of concern.

The good news is that many restaurants, food pantries, school districts and more are responding to the need.

This is in in now way exhaustive, but it's a start. Motherly will be updating this list frequently, so please send us any programs you hear of in your area to news@mother.ly.

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Where to find free and low-cost food during the COVID-19 pandemic

Nationwide

  • Buy Nothing Groups: Facebook-based local groups where neighbors offer free items. Some are starting food sharing options
  • Burger King: 2 free kids meals with every adult meal purchase, starting March 23, 2020
  • Moe's Southwest Grill: 1 free kids meal with every adult meal purchase
  • Meals on Wheels: Meals for senior citizens
  • Revolution Foods: Offers contingency meals for school and community relief sites
  • Salvation Army: Operations vary by state, many soup kitchens and food pantries available
  • Sheetz (Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia): Free "Meal bagz" including a turkey sandwich, chips and a drink available in stores
  • Sweetgreen: Free meals for healthcare workers
  • Yumi: Donating meals to Feeding America and taking meal requests at support@helloyumi.com
  • Online Food Pantries on Facebook

Alabama

Alaska

Arizona

Arkansas

California

Colorado

Connecticut

Delaware

District of Columbia

Florida

Text FLKIDSMEALS to 211-211 to get updates.

Georgia

Hawaii

Idaho

Illinois

Indiana

Iowa

Kansas

Kentucky

Louisiana

  • Louisiana: Interactive map of free school lunch locations

Maine

Maryland

  • Baltimore: List of restaurant providing free meals

Massachusetts

Michigan

Minnesota

Mississippi

Missouri

Nebraska

Nevada

New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

Text COVID to 692692 to get updates in New York City.

North Carolina

North Dakota

Ohio

Oklahoma

Oregon

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

South Carolina

Tennessee

Texas

Vermont

Virginia

Washington

Wisconsin

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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My husband and I always talked about starting a family a few years after we were married so we could truly enjoy the “newlywed” phase. But that was over before it started. I was pregnant on our wedding day. Surprise!

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